When the man you’re facing is considered to be one of the best and most popular fighters of a generation, a man who’s one of the highest-paid athletes in the world and arguably the finest pugilist currently plying their trade in the ring right now, even the most cocksure boxer will be well aware they’re the underdog.
This is the situation Liverpool’s Callum Smith finds himself in this weekend when he takes on Mexican superstar Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez at San Antonio’s Alamodome but, unlike the five previous Brits to face off with Canelo in his 56-fight career, including Callum’s own brother Liam, Smith has a genuine chance to upset the odds in the last superfight of 2020 (bookmakers currently have Smith at about 4/1 to emerge victorious).
To be the best you need to beat the best and that’s not only a sentiment that Smith will be carrying into the ring on Saturday night - it’s the same for Canelo, too. Smith, the WBA (Super) and The Ring magazine super-middleweight champion is the number one rated fighter at 168lbs and for good reason. Smith has been widely-considered a huge talent since he turned pro back in 2012 and in recent years the 30-year-old has gone from strength-to-strength culminating in a fantastic win against George Groves in the World Boxing Super Series final in 2018, followed by two impressive title defences against Hassan N’Dam and John Ryder.
Crude comparisons have been drawn between Smith and Rocky Fielding, another Liverpudlian who enjoyed a huge height and reach advantage over the Mexican but was ultimately blown away in three rounds when they met at the end of 2018, Canelo’s first fight since stepping up from middleweight. These comparisons are very naive. Fielding was a solid fighter but never truly belonged among the world class (and was blown away by Smith in just a round back in 2015), Smith definitely does.
Fair enough, he doesn’t have the same seasoned career as Canelo who, despite being the same age, has fought more than twice the number of fights as Smith, starting his professional journey at a much younger age, and yes he is definitely the underdog, no question, but there’s a fire in Smith heading into this one. Don’t rule him out joining the likes of Tyson Fury and Lloyd Honeyghan in being part of one of Britain’s greatest victories in the ring on foreign soil.